Donum Dei – ‘Contribute To Chaos’ (Self-Released) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby   
Tuesday, 13 February 2018 04:20

Donum Dei artworkapproved image lrg 2013One of the good things about being a music journalist working in a relatively tight geographic area, but one with an equally tight music community, is watching a young band start out, take their first steps and then grow, develop and, hopefully, blossom and mature. I’ve had the good fortune, in my 30+ years of writing shit about this beloved rock ‘n’f’n’ roll of ours, of seeing this happen to a fair few acts – perhaps more than this little corner of the Überverse justifiably should be able to produce and send out into the wider world… it must be whatever we put in our whiskey!


Like boxers, Norn Iron has produced, and continues to produce, championship contending, and winning bands more than capable of taking on the world, and beating all-comers… I’ll not bore you with the list, but you can now add Donum Dei to it – and not to the bottom, but fairly close to the top, as they are fully ready to punch their way into the global consciousness with this affirming and confident debut full-lengther.


Unlike a lot of young bands, Donum Dei have not rushed into releasing their debut album: yes, they tantalized us with a three-track EP back in 2015 (and even then that was four years into their career). Another thing they have done is not over-expose themselves on the live front: the Northern Irish metal scene is a very compact one, and bands can often overplay their hands by playing every hole in the hedge bar and every non-paying support slot going, resulting in the fans getting tired of seeing the same set virtually week in week out. Donum Dei initially fell into that trap, but as they have evolved they also have become clever enough to realize that, more often than not, less is more… and that has undoubtedly helped to build the sense of anticipation for this first full length offering – an anticipation that is more than fully rewarded.


My first reaction when I first slipped the CD into the URHQ deathdecks and pressed play was “holy fuck, is this really the same band I first saw in a tiny back street bar six or seven years ago?” As the first, Celtic-tinged riff of ‘False Hopes’ uncoils from the speakers, and Thomas opens his throat to physically spit the opening lyric squarely between your eyes, it is immediately obvious that this is the sound of a band beyond their years, a group of musicians who obviously have invested every ounce of their blood and sweat (and probably every last penny to boot) into crafting an album that is going to take no prisoners in terms of impact.



One criticism I had when Donum Dei first started out was they sounded too much like Metallica: now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but the copycatting back in their early career was a bit too blatant. This album has me eating my words – because those days are most definitely are long behind them as, although there are a myriad of obvious influences at play in the background, this is very much a collection of songs which possess their own defiant and strident identity. Based very firmly in their beloved thrash, it combines elements of metalcore, melodeath and even nu-metal (check the breakdown on ‘Dead On Arrival’), yet retains a unique feel which few bands at this stage in their career tragically fail to evoke.


There obviously has been a lot of craft and thought, not to say time and effort, gone into producing ‘Contribute To Chaos’, but it is not over-thought, as it retains an all-important freshness and vitality and displays a maturity beyond its creators’ years. The performances are precise and measured yet ooze with passion, and the stunning production draws out every nuance of the sound… leaving me with only one question: can somebody please send this to Robb Flynn and tell him this is how a heavy metal album is supposed to fucking sound?


‘Contribute To Chaos’ is released on 1 March.


Donum Dei have the following dates lined up:


Thursday 1 March – Belfast, Empire Music Hall (album release show, with Death Of A Salesman, Ketos and Dream Awake)

Friday 30 March – Dublin, Fibber Magee’s (with Ketos, Order Sixty Six and Antidotes)

Saturday April 21 – Belfast, Limelight 2 (’Eighteen And Life’ festival)


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